Caméras du poste de pilotage, en plus de la voix et des enregistreurs de données

Publication : lundi 28 décembre 2009 14:04

La version française de cet article bientôt disponible.

Aviation safety may soon be facilitated with the advent of the FDC.Who isn’t accustomed now a days to several video cameras here and there at a place of work? Like flight data re co rders (FDR’s) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR’s), a “Cockpit Video Recorder (CVR)” or a “ Flight Deck Camera (FDC) ”, as its name might eve ntually be possibly coined, can be installed in the cockpit to video re co rd pilots’ activities as currently does the CVR for audio.


To prove its feasibility and taking such an idea further, in 1989, British Airway s, funded by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, successfully carried out a trial installation of two external cameras on a Boeing 747. Mike Horne of AD Aerospace Ltd Manchester (UK) even avers that it is their contention that much information could be restored for post accident use by replacing the Cockpit Voice Recorder with a combined cockpit voice and video camera system recording the comple te “Cockpit Environment”. Like the data for conventional FDRs and CVR's, the data images recorded can be stored in a crash protected unit to ensure survivabiity. So what exactly is one aiming at by having a recorded video of pilots’ activities?

Should this video camera record the entire flight deck activities or should it record just portions like takeoffs and landings? Should it record an aerial view of the co c kpit or should it record specific areas of flight instruments? Should particular attention be given to pilots’ facial expressions, gesticulations, actions, body language and movement? For how long should the camera record? How many cameras should be installed to do the recording ? To attempt ananswer to the above questions, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in their 11th April 2000 Safety Recommendation paper, recommends the following minimum requirements for a cockpit image recorder: recording duration should be 2 hours; colour images should be recorded from all cameras ; recorded images should be captured under all lighting conditions; the entire cockpit image should be recorded, including views of each control position and actions taken by people in the cockpit; the number of cameras should be the number necessary to adequately capture these images; the frame rate and resolution should be sufficient to capture motion and critical actions, such as display selections or system activations; the recorder should have an independent power supply capable of providing power for 10 minutes; circuit breakers should be inaccessible during flight. Since seeing is believing, a video would speak volumes.

It is in this light that the main purpose of having a recorded video of pilots’ activities in the cockpit is for its utilization in accident and incident investigations. Mindful of the fact that the ultimate goal of an accident or incident investigation is the prevention of its reoccurrence, a video will thus play a vital role in the assurance of increased aviation safety. In his paper on “ Future Video Accident Recorder”, Mike Horne suggests that a system consisting of five internal cockpit mounted cameras, and three external cameras should be installed. He adds that in order to avoid multiple recorders, it is essential in any multi-camera video system to convert the various camera inputs to a single video signal.

This is achieved by “Video Multiplexing”, which takes one picture (field) from the first video input, and follows it with a field from the next input, a field from the third input, and so on. Mike’s paper goes on to suggest how such a system may be used as part of a future "Aircraft Recorder Server", in which Audio, Data and Video are all recorded in a single “ Black Box”. Honourable Marion C. Blakey, former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator, at tests that an image recording system, estimated to cost less than $8,000 installed, typically consists of a camera and microphone located in the cockpit to continuously record cockpit instrumentation, the outside viewing area, engine sounds, radio communications, and ambient cockpit noises.

The above sound logical and straight forwa rd but you will be surprise that this topic generates a debate in which opinions very widely. Whilst some speak with voices stentorian in support of such aventure, others vehemently oppose. In their January 2005 Air Line Pilot commit tee corner on safety and security, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) released the following statistics on cockpit videos: fully 93 percent of pilots opposed having cameras in the cockpit. A strong majority felt that the "privacy protections" currently in place for CV Rare inadequate. Fully 78 percent were strongly opposed to cameras. Mores of, pilots’ main reasons for opposing cameras were a concern for privacy and a view that cameras were not useful or necessary. Pilots who were neutral were concerned about their use, and those in favour said they would help in accident investigations. Still, opposition was strong, even with assurances that a pilot’s head or shoulders would not be shown. Fully 83 perce nt still opposed cockpit cameras even with that provision. Demographic differences were little except in degree of intensity of response.

Most pilots (69 percent) feel that the current privacy protections are inadequate, with 28 percent trusting the provisions, and 2 percent neutral. In their safety recommendation dated April 11 of 2000, the NTSB recognizes the privacy issues with recording images of pilots. So in the interest of protecting the use of any recorded images, the National Transportation Safety Board of America has requested that its Congress implement the same provisions that exist for CVRs for the use of image recorders in all modes of transportation. Pending authorization, a cockpit image recorder would be protected by the National Transportation Safety Board in the same rigorous manner as a CVR . By the way, let us not forget that the cockpit is the pilot’s place of wo r k. It is thus a professional environment and one should carry himself/herself in a professional manner at all times within it. Being taped while in the cockpit shouldn’t pose a problem therefore because there is little or no room for privacy at the place of work. In fact, such a recorded video could be educative in nature by demonstrating dos and don’t s. Furthermore, with pilot error classified at 65 percent of the general aviation accidents by the NTS B, it is in the best interest of pilots to have a video record of their activities.

This video recording will not only exonerate them of such a derogatory claim by the NTSB thus bringing consolation and rest to both them and their respective families, but will also proactively ensure ALPA’s ascertainment that accidents that are caused by pilot error of airline pilots are declining. The veracity of the latter claim will be beyond reproach for if a picture speaks a thousand word s, what more of a video? Several still argue that not only will such avenure increase gadgets in an already heavily cluste red cockpit, thereby increasing the aircraft’s general weight; it will, from the operator’s point of view, increase cost. However, in the save lat ter safety recommendation, the National Transportation Safety Board of America believes that given the history of compl ex accident investigations and the lack of crucial information regarding the cockpit environment, the safety of the flying public must take precedence because safety is price less. A number of people say that the FDR and CVR, along with other cu r rent sources are sufficient in determining accident / incident causes. Historically, the latter statement is false. Below are two cited accide ts where although causes were determined, the conclusions were viewed by many to be controversial including the family members of the pilots: • Silk Air Flight 185, Boeing 737-36N, Musi River near Palembang- Sumatra, 19th December 1997, and • Egypt Air Flight 990, Boeing 767-366ER, SUGAP, 60 miles south of Nantucket- Massachusetts, 31st October 1999. In the above cited accidents where mass homicide/suicide is highly suspected, the limitations of the current tools available to investigators are clearly brought to light. Cockpit recording is not 100% effe ctive.

At times some sounds are not recorded and some inaudible. If audible, some are intelligible. Many a times, an inves tigator and/or analyst wonders what is going on during periods of silence whilst listening to a CVR. A flight deck recorder will put to rest any doubts in such a situation and would be able to solve the mystery behind the above mentioned crashes. History has shown that there are numerous accident and incident investigations that might have benefited from the capture of a graphic record of the cockpit environment. Event reconstruction that led to ma y accidents has been difficult for investigators because of limited data. Fli ght deck cameras will therefore tremendously help. Si n ce safety is no longer a topic of debate in aviation, the use of flight deck recorders will increase the existing current safety and security level. It is now left on the ex p e rts to make sound and good judgement in the imple mentation and utilization of flight deck cameras in addition to voice and data recorders. This is the way forward.

Babila Folabit

FAA Licensed A&P mechanic